Anonymous said: how do I write a scene (and possibly scenes of events leading up to) a character death cause by the plague?? I'm pretty sure you know which plague I mean
There are actually three types of plague that all fall under the name “The Black Plague”. All three of them originate from fleas who have bitten infected rodents, so make sure your environment is full of fleas and rodents, like rats. The three strains come from the same bacteria (yersinia pestis) and are separated by the parts of the body the bacteria inhabit. TW: The links in the strain titles lead to gross images.
This is the most common type of plague, hence why the terms Black Death and Bubonic Plague are (falsely) interchangeable. The bacteria infects the lymph nodes the closest to the area the flea bit. Infected lymph nodes swell and form a bubo, which is where the bubonic plague get its name from. The buboes develop 2-5 days after exposure. They are about the size of a chicken egg, tender, and warm to the touch. Other symptoms include chills, fever, nausea, headache, muscle pain, and seizures. The symptoms usually come on rapidly. If untreated, the bacteria in the lymph nodes spread throughout the body, leading to death.
This is when y. pestis multiplies in the bloodstream. The sufferer may be dead before they have other, more visible symptoms, because a major symptom of septicemic plague is internal bleeding. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, gangrene in the extremities, shock, diarrhea, fever, extreme weakness, and nausea. Septicemic plague can be a result of untreated bubonic plague or a completely new plague. In addition to being spread through flea bites, septicemic plague can result from handling an infected animal. The incubation period is 2-5 days.
This the rarest and most deadly strain. Unlike the other two strains, pneumonic plague can be spread through the air, via coughing, breathing, or sneezing. It can also result from untreated septicemic or bubonic plague. It only takes 2-3 days for symptoms to begin. They include coughing, bloody saliva and mucus, fever, headache, chest pain, pneumonia, shortness of breath, and weakness. The person dies of respiratory failure and/or shock.
50% of people with bubonic or septicemic plague will die if untreated. Almost all people with pneumonic plague will die if untreated. I mentioned 2-3 or 2-5 days as the incubation period because that’s the average. Some people - especially the young and old - died within hours. If the plague has been a problem, the community might enact laws to stop its spread. Most communities chose to lock the family into their house until the plague passed. The city of Milan locked the family into their house and then burned everyone inside.
Facing those odds, being infected with the plague often felt like a death sentence. I can’t put it any better than Ian Mortimer in his book, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England:
You have no idea what destruction a disease can wreak upon society. When you see people consumed from within, as if they are being eaten alive by some invisible creature - when you look at the faces of mothers and fathers staring at their feverish, blood-vomiting infants, lying in their own beds, in the very places where they parted with a kiss the previous evening, then you might get an inkling. When you are there in 1348, and have been relieved of any complacent assumptions that anyone will survive this hideous calamity, and have come face-to-face with the very real prospect that it will annihilate the whole of humanity, and that God has deserted mankind, then you will start to realize how destructive the plague is…
When you see women dragging their parents’ and children’s corpses into ditches, weeping and screaming - when you listen to a man who has buried all five of his sons with his own hands, and, in his distress, he tells you that there was no divine service when he did so, and that the death bell did not sound - you know that these people have entered a chasm of grief beyond description… The passing bells are banned by the church, the traditional laments throw away. Even prayer fades into a mere whisper of horror.